Alum Nieto commits to Lake Superior State

Garrett Nieto, a former Los Angeles Jr. King, has committed to attend and play his NCAA Division I hockey at Lake Superior State University following his junior career.

This past season, the goaltender from Yorba Linda stopped pucks for the Wenatchee Wild of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) where he forged an 11-4-0-2 record to compliment a 2.09 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage. He was named to the BCHL All-Rookie Team for his efforts.

“This was my first year playing away from home and most kids are a little nervous, but I wasn’t,” said the 6-foot-3, 220-pound netminder. “I was excited to get the season underway because I knew the kind of guys we had.”

Despite playing largely in a backup role, the 1998-born Nieto was able to catch the eye of Lake State midway through the season thanks in part to him backstopping the Wild to a 2-1 victory over the Surrey Eagles on Dec. 4.

“They talked to me after the game, and kept watching me throughout the year and kept in contact,” said Nieto. “Then, about a week after the season ended, they called and offered me a scholarship. I was happy to accept.”

Wild head coach and general manager Bliss Littler believes the best is yet to come for Nieto.

“We expect Garrett to continue to get better,” said the coach. “By the end of last year, he was a legitimate starter in the BCHL and his numbers back it up.”

Wild assistant coach Chris Clark agrees.

“Garrett’s style of play is very similar to what you see in many National Hockey League goaltenders,” said Clark. “He combines his size, athleticism and aggressiveness very nicely. Add to that his competitive nature and willingness to learn and he really sets himself up to be successful at all levels.”

Nieto is quick to credit this family, first and foremost, for his opportunity to play Division I hockey.

“My mom and dad sacrificed so much to help put my brother (former Jr. Kings goaltender and Brown University recruit Gavin Nieto) and I through the game,” he said. “It cost a lot of money and time and I can’t thank them enough.

“Obviously Coach Bliss is amazing and I love to play for him. He helped me get this scholarship and I can’t thank him enough for it. I want to thank Coach Clark and (Wild associate head) Coach (Tom) Rudrud, too, for an amazing season; I can’t wait to play for them again next year.”

A member of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA), Lake Superior State University finished this past season with a 10-13-5 record in conference play (14-22-5 overall).